What Does “Gospel” Mean?


March 23, 2020
The word gospel reflects the Greek word for “good news” or “momentous news.” The good news is what God has done in Jesus Christ, supremely in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. This God did in fulfillment of all that he had promised to do (Luke 24:44) to reconcile lost and guilty human beings to himself, powerfully transforming them by his Spirit in anticipation of their resurrection existence in the new heaven and the new earth.


When Christians used the word “gospel” in the first century AD, it always referred to this message about Jesus; it did not refer to the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John — books that tell the story about Jesus. At that time, Christians spoke of the gospel according to Matthew, Mark, or the others. Only in the second century and beyond did Christians start talking about these books themselves as Gospels — Matthew’s Gospel (or the Gospel of Matthew), Mark’s Gospel, and so on. In the first century, “gospel” referred to the message, not the book that conveyed it.


Honoring Mom and Dad


“Honor your father and your mother.” Exodus 20:12

Who do you think is most responsible for establishing a child’s opinion of his mother or father? The other parent, that’s who! Each wields tremendous influence over what the children think of the other. Early in my marriage to Shirley, I learned that occasional irritation between us quickly reflected itself in the behavior of our kids. They seemed to think, If Dad can argue with Mom, then we can, too. In short, my attitude became the attitudes of my children. I realized how important it was to openly express love and admiration for my wife, even when there were issues that we needed to iron out in private.

If you’re the father in the home, I encourage you to remind your kids how hard their mother works and how wonderful she is. And if you’re the mother, praise your husband’s courage and principles in front of the children. Kids will quickly recognize and mirror the respect fathers and mothers give each other. Showing honor now will pay off for years to come.

Just between us…

  • How did your parents show respect to each other?
  • Have we done a good job of honoring each other, and the Lord, in front of our children? In which situations are we most likely to fail?
  • How could we improve?
  • Do we know a couple that sets a good example in this area? What do they do that seems to really work?

Almighty God, we want to be good examples of honoring each other so that our children will grow up to honor their father and mother. We ask for Your wisdom and grace as we seek to excel in honoring one another in our home. Thank You for Your love. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

A New Attitude


The lips of the righteous nourish many. Proverbs 10:21

It’s difficult to maintain an encouraging spirit when you’re overwhelmed by problems with your child. We know of a family that faced this predicament. Jenny was a three-year-old who was still acting like a child in the “terrible twos”; nearly every interaction between parent and child was marked by conflict. Yet the father decided that this was as good a time as any for a first “date” with his daughter: breakfast at a local restaurant. As the hot pancakes melted his butter, he felt his own disappointment with his daughter melting away. He began to tell Jenny how much she was loved and appreciated, that he and her mother had prayed for Jenny for years, that they were so proud of her.

The father stopped to eat, but never got the fork to his mouth. In a soft, pleading voice, Jenny said, “Longer, Daddy. Longer.” For a second time he told Jenny why she was special…and a third time…and a fourth. Whenever he stopped, he heard the words, “Longer, Daddy. Longer.”

To follow Christ is “to be made new in the attitude of your minds” (Ephesians 4:23) so that every action and word is “helpful for building others up” (v. 29). It is true with children of all ages, too. Sometimes a problem with misbehavior or rebellion can be lessened by simply taking the time to have fun together and to speak of love in very warm terms. Kids need to hear that they are respected and appreciated. And guess what—so do moms and dads.

Before you say good night…

Are you displaying a loving, appreciative attitude toward your kids?

What can you do this week to express this attitude to your children?

Lord, You always see the hunger for affirmation and attention and love in the hearts of our kids. Awaken us, we pray, so that we see it, too. Help us to pour out encouragement to our children as You continue to pour it into us. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Illustration adapted from Leaving the Light On by Gary Smalley and John Trent (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1994).

The Mundane and the Monumental: Clinging to Easter Sunday on Monday Morning









By: Sherri Gragg

Six days before Easter morning, I found myself lying at the bottom of a flight of stairs, pondering the efficiency of gravity.

One minute, I was making my way down the narrow staircase of a 200-year-old log cabin on a friend’s farm. The next, I was sprawled across the hardwood floors, clutching my knee in agony. As two of my teens helped me stand, everything in me was already raging.

Raging against gravity. Raging against socks on stairs. Raging against my aging body.

Raging against all the things I wouldn’t be able to do with an injured knee. Raging against looming doctors’ appointments and hours spent in physical therapy.

While I was at it, even though it was completely irrelevant, I raged against menopause too. Because if anything deserves rage, it is menopause.

For the next 24 hours, I hobbled around the farm using a hiking stick for a cane as I fed the goats and stole eggs from the chickens. I watched from a distance as my three teens hiked the hill I had always wanted to tackle. I dangerously teetered over the fire pit, determined we would make s’mores one more time before we headed home and to the orthopedist. I gritted my teeth and drove my Jeep around the farm to prove I could still work the clutch with my bum knee.

It was one long wrestling match with my never-ending impulse to control the uncontrollable.

“Things had been going so well…” I repeatedly mumbled under my breath.

Learning to Let Go of the Reins

And, for the first time in a long time, they were. My two oldest kids were finding success in college. The three at home were on track too. My work was going great. I had all of the writing I could handle.

Life felt stable, good, controllable. I didn’t want to let go of the reins. And it wasn’t just about my injured knee.

One week earlier, I received a panicked phone call from the 15-year-old boy I had been mentoring for years. He was in state custody, and his path to return home had fallen apart. He wanted to know if my husband and I would consider becoming his guardians.

Through the frustrating limitations of my injury, God helped me confront my inner conflict as I considered life with six children instead of five, with four kids between the ages of 14 and 17 instead of three.

I didn’t have the luxury of naïveté. As a mom of five kids between the ages of fourteen and twenty-three, I knew what it meant to parent teens. Did I have it in me to hold another teenager accountable? To teach another kid how to drive? Honestly, I wasn’t sure.

As an adoptive mom, I also understood that any time a child joins a family through adoption or foster care, a devastating loss has preceded the joy of that homecoming. I was intimately, painfully acquainted with the trauma. The grief. The long, tear-stained road to recovery and trust.

Most of all, I knew there are never any guarantees in parenting.

And frankly, at this point in my life, I felt I was long overdue a few guarantees.

He Walks Beside Us Every Step

On my friend’s farm, as I painfully limped around the goat pen under the delusion that I could still catch a baby goat, I felt God tugging at my heart. He reminded me that when we walk with Jesus, life is a series of “little deaths.” He calls us to surrender our compulsion for control and our cravings for safety and comfort. He lovingly calls us to carry the promise of Easter’s resurrection into the mundane and the monumental of Monday morning.

He asks us to trust that no matter how terrifying the future looms, He walks beside us every step of the way.

This excerpt is from Jesus Calling April 1, Easter, 2018

“I am calling you to a life of constant communion with Me. Basic training includes learning to live above your circumstances, even while interacting on that cluttered plane of life…Accept each day just as it comes, and find Me in the midst of it all. Talk with Me about every aspect of your day, including your feelings. Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me.” – Jesus Calling


Sherri Gragg is a recovering control addict and a teen-parenting survivor. She is also an internationally published writer and the author of several books includingArms Open Wide: A Call to Linger in the Savior’s Presence.